I am a fan of trash horror and if you have been following this site, and indeed the Horrorcast Podcast, you will know I live for this kind-of sick shit. But did the series move away from the first films vision? Almost certainly. What Spiral is attempting, in my eyes, is to try and bring the film back to its origins whilst also trying to make it its own franchise. Chris Rock, acting as executive producer as well as the lead, has a big pair of creepy clown doll shoes to fill to make this work and personally It does, but only up to a point. Spiral as a solo film, taking away the lore of the franchise, isn’t a bad film. I loved the traps, the reveal and the motivation of the new villain (no Jigsaw this time. But he has been dead several movies now). But what lets Spiral down is an occasional feeling of being a rushed job. Rock doesn’t fit the mould for this kind of role, with his talents better suited for a comedic role, and he has mentioned in interviews (check out the awesome interview on the Evolution of Horror podcast) that he was trying to add a bit of comedy to the role. BAD IDEA. What you want from a reboot like this, if you are going for more of the ‘Cops hunting the killer’, is not the comedy stylings of a grizzled cop. You do get slightly used to Rock’s character as the film continues on but I feel the director is trying to go for a more Se7en-like feel, which really doesn’t fit the characters we have. On the subject of Se7en this isn’t a bad thing per say as I liked the more gritty style of this film. I like how it feels more like the first film than the sequels and I enjoyed Jackson’s retired cop character.
Our villain of the piece is a bit of a mixed bag. I liked the reveal but it was ruined by the shear obviousness that it was his [SPOILER ALER] partner, especially with how rubbish his fake death was. I like the pig cop puppet, it sets the whole history up well in the end, I like that we didn’t go back to the Jigsaw puppet well for the sake of a cheap hit of nostalgia. If given more time I feel that Spiral could have been a great addition to the series.
If you recast Rock’s character, fixed the bad editing (it feels rushed throughout the whole film) and took away the god awful attempts at comedy, which fell as flat as a pancake, this would have worked well. This isn’t to say I hated this film, I found it an okay watch and by far not the worst Saw film they have done. I never found myself looking at my watch or feeling bored, I just felt that this was a test audience version before the final edit.